Its No Joke
My generation grew up laughing at the iconic “doomsday prophet,” portrayed on busy Manhattan street corners, matted hair and disheveled beard, wearing burlap robes and a sign invariably proclaiming, “Repent now – avoid the rush on Doomsday!”
It was a joke; a caricature that nobody took seriously.
These days no one laughs at those who dare proclaim that the nations live in the shadow of coming judgment. Those who proclaim the message of repentance from sin are seen now as dangerous and deranged fanatics bent upon placing a blanket of guilt on all us; a message undeserved and unnecessary in an enlightened society that has outgrown the need for such a fantasy as God.
Even the church, once the steady voice of God in society has been bullied in silence or seduced into compromise. In increasing frequency, strong Biblical concepts like repentance, confession, judgment, and hell have been purged from the Christian narrative. Righteousness, holiness, and separation from sinful lifestyles are now seen as hateful and divisive, ugly reminders of an archaic faith no longer viable in a world of tolerance and inclusiveness. Any who cling to such outdated ideas are vilified and marginalized – even within the church.
Recently some 150 evangelical leaders issued a document, The Nashville Statement, which reaffirmed the Biblical positions on sexuality, (Homosexuality, Transgender, etc.). It was not written with a “hateful pen” but did affirm the Word of God as the final authority on such matters. The push back was immediate and robust. In a New York Times Op Ed attributed to Eliel Cruz says, “The Nashville Statement’s harm is more than symbolic. The hateful beliefs it endorses have real-life, devastating consequences.” This was to be expected and not all shocking.
What was revealing was the reaction of many clergy and leaders of those who call themselves the church. Hundreds of pro-gay church leaders crossed the Nashville Statement’s “line in the sand” by rejecting it as heresy, and issued counter-manifestos claiming homosexuality is holy.
A group of over 300 pro-gay Christians and LGBT advocates have endorsed and published a counter manifesto called Christians United in direct response to the Nashville Statement. The counter-manifesto promotes homosexuality and transgender lifestyles as “fully blessed by God” and “without a need to conform to the heteronormative, patriarchal, binary sexuality and gender paradigm that Christianity has come to promote and embrace.”
It calls for a complete reinterpretation of scripture in conformity with current popular opinion, as opposed mainstream Christian doctrine’s call for people to be conformed to Christ’s teaching. The authors of the document hailed homosexuality-affirming Christians as “prophetic voices” who have been “excluded, marginalized, and demonized.”
The Scriptures ominously warn of a great falling away, or apostasy, which will precede the return of Christ.
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first. . . “ 2 Thessalonians 2:3
The Bible also tells us of a time when men will become so wicked and alienated from God that they will call evil good and good evil. That day is now upon us. We live in a culture where those who promote all manner of wickedness and perversion are exalted and revered and those who hold to the principles of the Word of God are greatly maligned as hateful, bigoted, narrow, and even dangerous.
My son has recently preached a series of messages designed to help our congregation look at the ancient feasts of Israel through New Testament eyes. It has been excellent teaching as the prophetic implications of those feasts commanded by God in Exodus and Leviticus which the Jews have celebrated for thousands of years amazingly point directly to the hour in which we now live.
One particular idea has burned itself into my heart. The Days of Awe (T’shuvah) were announced by a trumpet calling all of Israel to a time of personal introspection and repentance. It was a solemn time in which me were called to turn away from their sin toward God. In one illustration my son referred to the ministry of John the Baptist as the “trumpet of God,” for his message was indeed, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” The sounding of the Shofar at Rosh Hashana served literally to awaken men from their spiritual slumber to a time of repentance; to return to God.
Indeed a wild man, living in the wilderness, clothed in camel hair and eating locusts and honey who comes on the scene crying “Repent,” would certainly be like a trumpet to the Judean countryside and his message was of particular irritation to the “religious” crown. It would seem that those who stand in defense of the righteous standards of the Word of God and who warn of impending judgment have become a particular irritation to an apostate church.
Their response is,”Be quiet, and put that trumpet down; you are making everyone uneasy!” We want players of the flute and lyre, which lull one to sleep, but the trumpeter is not welcome. He makes too much noise. And yet, the voice of a trumpet is precisely what is needed in this hour. To the Jewish people, Rosh Hashana is fast approaching and those who observe it will do so with the sounding of the Shofar (trumpet). I am telling you that the shadow of the judgment of God is cast upon us in this hour and I pray that the spirit of John the Baptist (the trumpet) will rise up in our nation and sound the alarm: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”
There is another trumpet blast that will one day be heard, perhaps sooner than later. It is called “the Last Trump.” When that blast is heard all decisions will have been made and eternal destinies will have been set. It is the Trumpet that will announce the Judge of men and nations. Some will celebrate its sound with jubilation while others will cry for the rocks to hide them.
Let the spirit of The Baptist rise. Let his trumpet voice awaken the sleeping to repentance.
“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.” Spurgeon